Formula Renault 2.0 - Kvyat the man to beat at Spa
Koiranen Motorsport’s Daniil Kvyat was the dominant force in the first meeting of the season, winning both races at Motorland Aragón.
And at Spa-Francorchamps, a circuit he lists as a particular favourite, Kvyat will once again be feared by the rest of the field.
The Belgian crowd, however, will be right behind local favourite Stoffel Vandoorne (Josef Kaufmann Racing). And for Vandoorne, who will bear the colours of Royal Automobile Club of Belgium, a maiden Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 victory at Spa, on home soil, would be the perfect prize.
Those with previous experience in the fiercely contested Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 know the importance of starting the season strongly. Daniil Kvyat, who finished third overall last year, could not have hoped for a more ideal start to the 2012 campaign, scoring a pole position and two victories at Motorland Aragón. The Spanish circuit is not, by Kvyat’s own admission, his circuit of choice – unlike Spa-Francorchamps, which he lists as one of his favourite playgrounds. Indeed, it was at Spa last season that the Red Bull Junior Team driver recorded his first Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 victory.
Kvyat will need to be at his best to maintain his winning start to 2012, with the competition stronger than ever and with nearest rivals Norman Nato (RC Formula) and Stoffel Vandoorne hot on his heels. Nato won his first race at the wheel of the Formula Renault 2.0 a few weeks ago on the streets of Pau, in the Formula Renault 2.0 Alps competition, and he will be keen to step things up a gear in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0. The Frenchman, born in Cannes, retired from both races at Spa-Francorchamps in a barren 2011 meeting, so he will be determined to enjoy a more productive weekend this year.
All eyes at the Belgian circuit, however, will be on Stoffel Vandoorne. The RACB National Team driver is still looking for his first Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 victory, but he has the advantage of racing on home soil this time around. Vandoorne, like many other drivers, has a soft spot for the challenging Spa-Francorchamps circuit, but he is keen to stress that his knowledge of the track is no better than anyone else’s. Nonetheless, the Belgian will be hoping for a big performance in front of his home crowd, and his main objective will be to close the 23-point gap between him and championship leader Daniil Kvyat,
It is not just the top three drivers who will be battling for victory at Spa. By claiming a pole position and second-place finish at Motorland Aragón, Oscar Andrés Tunjo (Tech 1 Racing) proved that he is a force to be reckoned with. His team-mate, Paul-Loup Chatin, also heads to Spa in fine form after his recent victory in the Formula Renault 2.0 Alps at Pau.
R-Ace Grand Prix’s Nyck de Vries, meanwhile, is another one to watch in Belgium. De Vries, who drives for the McLaren Driver Development Programme, made a bight start to the season with a podium finish at the first meeting. But, on a circuit that has been graced by the biggest names in motorsport, he will know that he still has much to prove.
Some drivers in the field will be hoping to kick-start their seasons at Spa. Self-professed title hopeful Alex Riberas (Josef Kaufmann Racing) has yet to put a single point on the board and will need to raise his game in Belgium. It is a similar story for Miki Weckström (KTR), who will no doubt look to benefit from the advice of team manager Kurt Mollekens, a double winner of the Spa 24 Hours. Oliver Rowland (Fortec Motorsports), Timmy Hansen (Interwetten.com) and Javier Tarancon (RC Formula) are among the other drivers who need to take risks in the Belgian Ardennes if they are to make up ground on the leading pack.
There are others, meanwhile, who have already triumphed at Spa-Francorchamps and dream of repeating their success at a higher level. This is notably the case for Patrick Kujala (Koiranen Motorsport) and Pierre Gasly (R-Ace GP), who won a race each at Spa last season in the French F4 Championship.